“The Ongresso team really shared their beliefs with me and passed on their passion for Latin America. I believe that the region’s reputation abroad needs to improve so that people see more in countries like Colombia than just their past.”
During the last five months we had the pleasure of having Johanna Lemke as a member of our team. As part of her studies, she completed an internship with us and supported our team in the areas of digital marketing and business development. You can read about her experience at Ongresso in Colombia below.
Tell us a little bit about yourself! How did you end up in Colombia?
I am from northern Germany, I grew up in a region called Ostfriesland, which made me the tea lover I have always been. After spending a year and a half in the USA in the Washington D.C. metropolitan area, I moved to Bremen where I started studying Global Management with a focus on Spanish speaking emerging economies. I am now starting my 7th and last semester in Bremen and love coffee just as much as tea after spending 5 months in Colombia.
For me, it was a rather spontaneous choice to come to Colombia. I spent the previous semester at Tecnológico de Monterrey, a university in Puebla, Mexico and heard great things about Medellín from fellow students. I had the opportunity to apply for an internship at Ongresso, and I was excited to go and experience a new place. I talked to Daniel Breitenmoser on the phone while travelling through Ecuador and booked my flights a few days later knowing only a little bit more about Colombia than the average person.
A little, naïve part of me thought that since Mexico and Colombia were both Latin American countries they could not be that different. I expected the Spanish to sound a little different but thought that I would still understand just as much as I did in Mexico. I also expected less tacos and more empanadas!
What was the change really like?
The more realistic part of me expected a bigger change, and it was correct. The first thing I realized was that it would take me awhile to understand the Paisa Spanish (the accent spoken in Medellin), because it was indeed different from the Mexican Spanish that I was used to after 6 months. And what was surprising to me is that I actually feel even safer in Medellín than I did in Puebla. Medellín is a very modern and developed city with a big international community and I was happy that the public transport system is easy to use and reliable. Overall, it was a great step to get to know another country the way I got to know Colombia. Colombians are friendly, helpful and very enthusiastic. Joy really runs through their veins and they always find reasons to be happy. They are proud of their country and specific region concerning things like regional foods, traditions, clothing, sayings and accents. And of course, experiencing the culture was a wonderful experience. Going out to listen to music, dance salsa or watch a soccer game with locals was always fun, just like travelling to different parts of the country to experience the diversity of Colombia. I also look forward to Medellín’s famous flower festival in August before I leave to go back home.
What did you do and learn at Ongresso?
In my five months at Ongresso, I helped with digital marketing and business development which taught me a lot about doing business in Latin America. My experience corresponded perfectly with my studies and helped me emphasize the focus on Spanish speaking emerging economies. Thanks to Ongresso, I improved my knowledge about entrepreneurship, market entry strategies, and the importance of a solid business network.
While producing marketing content, I gained a lot of insight about the Colombian economy, politics and history, as well as about other countries in Latin America and their relationships. Through the internship I was able to practice my Spanish and expand my skills in marketing. My responsibilities included website-editing, writing articles and blog posts, creating social media content, and connecting with clients and partners. I could always contribute my ideas for our marketing strategy and enjoyed the freedom to be creative and find my own tasks while never being left with nothing to do.
How was your experience at Ongresso?
Ongresso is a very welcoming and authentic workplace. Every employee can contribute her or his ideas about anything that helps improve the way the company operates and creates value for its clients. Everyone is helpful and inclusive of whoever comes through our door, which makes for an inspiring work climate. What I love the most about Ongresso is that the whole team is highly motivated and really lives by the slogan “Unlock the Potential of Latin America”. They are on the inside what they say to be on the outside: passionate about the region and caring for colleagues, clients and partners. Through assisting clients with their market entry and growth in Latin America, they help bring innovative goods and services to the region and creating jobs. I personally experienced that Ongresso is about more than their services by striving to have a positive impact in Latin America that results from their clients’ success. The Ongresso team really shared their beliefs with me and passed on their passion for Latin America. I believe that the region’s reputation abroad needs to improve so that people see more in countries like Colombia than just their past. Ongresso has a clear vision of their long-term goals and I, in my professional and personal future, want to carry on the message of Latin America’s potential as well.
I want to recommend doing an exchange or an internship in Colombia, especially at Ongresso, to anyone who has the opportunity!
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